I would have expected something transgressive, or at least animalic, from a scent named after Genet’s dark novel of masochistic lust, homosexual rape, blackmail, and murder, but that’s not what Querelle delivers. Granted, Querelle projects some of the hyper-masculine swagger embodied in Genet’s characters, but it smells to me more of a gentleman’s club than of a gay leather bar or a brothel full of randy sailors. I realize that the scent itself is more important than the label, but with such a loaded name, I just can’t help wishing for a provocative scent – something along the lines of Muscs Koublaï Khan, Oud Cuir d’Arabie, Kouros, or even Pierre Guillaume’s own Intrigant Patchouli.
Instead, Querelle presents a bundle of bitter aromatic notes and sweet bergamot over a mossy base in a highly traditional spicy fougère accord. It’s the same in-your-face, macho, ‘70s and ‘80s vibe you get in Yatagan, Azzaro pour Homme, or Balenciaga’s Portos. (In fact, Querelle’s scent pyramid overlaps very heavily with Azzaro’s!) It’s an appealing formula, since few scents of this sort are composed nowadays, but I don’t feel that Pierre Guillaume has brought anything new to the table with Querelle. If you like this kind of scent, you can get Azzaro, or the even more daring Yatagan for less than a quarter of Querelle’s niche market price.
Picture of wilderness and good manners
Querelle is a fragrance with that formal aspect which forces you to take it seriously at first sniff. It is like coming across a painting in a museum which you know nothing about, but you immediately feel the respect it commands. Querelle is a depiction of male nature which can not be hid under the polish of grooming and manners. The man described in Querelle is uncivilized. Someone who is able to leave behind his social obligations, and disappear on a month long hunting trip. This man has taste and manners. He can dress well, act confidently, and be gentle in a social setting. However, his manners and taste can not cover up his nature from anyone who cares to observe.
Querelle is a vetiver fragrance. It is not a fragrance which is dominated by vetiver as Vetiver Extraordinaire or Etro’s Vetiver are. It is not a smooth, minimal vetiver mix as Chanel Sycomore is. Nor is it a deep and ultra complex green fragrance with notes of vetiver as Amouage Memoir Man is. Querelle is a fragrance which uses just enough vetiver to balance out the myrrh and incense notes. Vetiver brightens up the dark oak moss and incense with streaks of green. Vetiver freshens up the earthy accord, preventing it from becoming dusty. Of all the vetiver based fragrances, in Querelle, Vetiver plays the most active role.
This is a masculine fragrance, as there is only a trace of florals in it, and a mature fragrance as there is very little sweetness present. No feminine elements. There are no pretty flowers, very little sweetness, no sexy musk. Despite being dry and clean, it is a kind of clean where there is a trace of dirt. A smell of forest lurking underneath the soap. A of adventure and romance underneath a polished appearance. It is old school elegant, but not because of aldehydes or powdery notes, but due to a balance between clean vetiver, green oak moss, tarry incense and sweet myrrh.
Review posted at veteverian.wordpress.com
Pros: Raw and elegant
Cons: Too cold for cold weather"
As more and more classic chypres become reformulated I miss that deep, ashy, dry dark brooding that is a hallmark of oakmoss. Querelle has that quality and I like it more and more as the classics slowly disappear to become 'vintage'.
This is a very creative fragrance, using note combinations that are unusual and cerebral, in that my mind is usually trying to tease apart the notes when I wear it. It can never quite assimilate the combination of caraway with the other notes, so it is a dynamic fragrance on me. It shifts from incensy to chypre to bitter to grassy, all in dark tones, but caraway is driving this train.
This has a real timeless quality about it with its own character, which I like. Though I don't wear it all the time, when I'm in the mood for it, it's excellent.
04th April, 2013 (last edited: 09th April, 2013)
Well, I like this, but it's a near thing. It comes very close to being too sour or scratchy and dry for me to enjoy. I'm not completely sure what saves it.
It goes on kind of harsh, almost like a chemical smell. But it softens and warms up, and the spices come out a bit. There is something almost salty about it. Most of the fragrances I really enjoy have some kind of sweetness in them, but there is nothing sweet about this. It makes me think of rye bread, or is that just the power of suggestion of the caraway listed in the notes?
After a while it lightens up a lot, and becomes this dry, grassy, somewhat airy scent that I enjoy. I wouldn't call it soapy or even clean, really. Maybe a little metallic, though? I don't even know how to describe this. It's like someone took a traditional men's fragrance and made it sort of abstract. It could almost pass for normal until you pay closer attention.
Querelle opens up with a citric vibe accompanied by a light vetiver note that within minutes, give space to a black cumin note mixed with cinnamon taking us to a more spicy aspect of the fragrance, but not something overdone.
Here the cinnamon followed by a light incense note appears giving to this particular fragrance, a very nice mysterious vibe, as if the incense was not on my skin, but surrounding me in the environment.
Through time, the base shows up leaving a slightly heavy incense aroma, but again, not something overdone, making me think about L'air du Desert Marocain a little bit.